Monday May 23, 2022, and we’re listening to our brand-new podcast called the TechCrunch Podcast. In it, we talk to TechCrunch writers about the stories they’re most excited about. The first episode is live now, featuring Darrell and Taylor talking about … UFOsHaje and Christine

The TechCrunch Top 3

  • Hey, you, get into my car: Automotive marketplace newcomer Sylndr is parking itself in a prime spot in the Egyptian used-car market with a $12.6 million pre-seed round, a big one for the region, to try to make some sense of an unorganized and outdated industry where buyers are distrustful of sellers. Sylndr’s approach is to offer both a “certified pre-owned” option — they buy the cars and get them in working condition — and financing in hopes of putting the brakes on some of that mistrust.
  • Is it a nerd? Is it insane? No, it’s super-Solana: If you’ll forgive the utterly dodgy Superman reference, Rita explores whether StepN, the latest crypto gaming craze, makes any sense.
  • High returns: Cryptocurrency has never been one for stability — heck, even the stablecoins aren’t proving to be stable — but for those die-hard investors looking for high-yield savings, Pebble wants to be your provider. Buoyed by a new infusion of $6.2 million in seed funding, the startup offers 5% annual percentage yield on all cash deposits through the use of stablecoins. Is everyone checking their bank APY right now?

Startups and VC

Putting robot operating systems in the cloud makes sense in a world where a lot of industrial robots have limited computing powers (and certainly no GPUs, TPUs, or FPGAs to help them along). Brian reports on a really interesting development from the Berkeley AI research lab, aiming to change that.

It’s pretty depressing that there are enough layoffs happening in startup land that we’re now on our third weekly installment of a roundup of startup team reductions, but Natasha and Amanda have you covered, letting you read all the heartbreaking news in one post, rather than having to read all our individual coverage.

As we’re tightening our belts, battening the hatches and mumbling “winter is coming” under our breaths, Connie has some fantastic advice for why you should start talking to bankers and buyers to ensure you have options if the guillotine really comes down in a big way.

Some good news, too:

  • The pear tree is fruiting: Connie reports that Silicon valley VC firm Pear is raising a $410 million fund; this is a huge step up from its previous $50 million, $75 million, and $160 million funds.
  • Moving from A to B in Uno, Dos, Tres: Christine reports how Argentina-based startup ClicOh raises $25 million to bring Amazon-level logistics to e-commerce businesses in LatAm.
  • Twinkle, twinkle, little pedal: We didn’t know how much bike pedals needed lights in them until we saw it in action. It just makes so much sense…
  • From routing to routing: Amit Jain, who previously led Uber’s APAC business and was a partner at Sequoia, is working on a crypto payments platform, raising money from Uber’s CEO, Manish reports.

Cisco’s latest results indicate a reckoning may soon be at hand

An illuminated logo above the Cisco Systems Inc. stand on the opening day of the MWC Barcelona at the Fira de Barcelona venue in Barcelona, Spain, on Monday, Feb. 28, 2022. Over 1,800 exhibitors and attendees from 183 countries will attend the annual event, which runs from Feb. 28 to March 3. Photographer: Angel Garcia/Bloomberg

Image Credits: Bloomberg / Getty Images

Is networking leader Cisco in the doldrums?

Ron Miller and Alex Wilhelm pored over the company’s recently released quarterly results and found that year-over-year revenue was flat, with future earnings predicted to fall well short of expectations.

Last week, CEO Chuck Robbins told analysts that the company was feeling the impacts of global supply chain issues and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but it’s increasingly unclear whether healthy software revenues can compensate for its sinking hardware business.

“Even when the supply chain issues are solved, Cisco must find a way to innovate and monetize in networking, something it has been struggling with over the last four to six years,” said Holger Mueller, an analyst at Constellation Research.

(TechCrunch+ is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)

Big Tech Inc.

Some M&A news courtesy of Broadcom taking an interest in VMware. Ron and Alex weren’t the first to get the news, but they spent some energy pondering why Broadcom might have its eye on VMware despite there not being much in common between the two.

Today’s mobility news is brought you by the letter “H,” the letter “B” and the word “oops.” Annie reported on a civil lawsuit that drivers in Kenya have filed against Uber BV with claims that the ride-hailing company had plans to “further reduce commuter charges in Kenya, months after the 35% cut of 2016.” It also goes into why drivers stuck around even after the price reduction. Meanwhile, Hyundai says it will park some $10 billion into electric and autonomous vehicles by 2025. About half of that will go into the car maker’s new EV factory it is building in Georgia. Over at Boeing, its team is cheering as its Starliner spacecraft docked with the International Space Station after many delays and even some nail-biting events after lift-off.

In streaming news, late-night funnyman Conan O’Brien must be all smiles as his Team Coco podcast is now part of SiriusXM, and there is some positive news for premium streaming subscriptions that might be making Netflix a little jealous.

And now, this:

  • Where were you when “The Great Fintech Battle” was fought?: You might remember in one of last week’s Daily Crunches we discussed Plaid and Stripe going head-to-head on some new tools. Alex and Mary Ann dig a little deeper into this fintech battle, where consumers might be declared the winner.
  • Taking away toxic text: Microsoft developed some news tools that aim to find and fix flaws in the way artificial intelligence models take in large amounts of data to create large language models that often end up with hate speech and other harmful language.
  • Epic Games fought the law and won, for now: Epic Games temporarily won on behalf of its internet music company holding, Bandcamp, to let the app run its existing payment system on Android. This is a similar antitrust legal battle against the tech giants that Epic Games is fighting itself.
  • Data disasters: The U.K. fined Clearview AI £7.5 million and told them to delete information of U.K. residents after it was found the U.S.-based company, which has a database of over 20 billion facial images, was grabbing them and using them without permission in a breach of local privacy laws. Stateside, Mark Zuckerberg is finding himself in some hot water. The Facebook founder is part of new litigation brought by the District of Columbia, alleging he was personally involved in the failures that led to the whole Cambridge Analytica–Facebook data-misuse debacle.
  • Well that takes the cake: Wedding planning app Zola confirmed that hackers gained entry into user accounts, which gave them access to credit card numbers, which the hackers used to buy gift cards.

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